President Sandro Rosell has resigned from FC Barcelona amid controversy surrounding the transfer of Brazilian star Neymar and will be replaced by vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu until 2016. Neymar, who Barcelona bought from Brazilian side Santos during last summer’s transfer window, is currently facing four weeks on the sidelines after injuring his right ankle in last weeks Copa del Rey Round of 16 win against fellow La Liga side Getafe.
On paper and in the media, the deal seemed to be handled legitimately with Neymar joining the Catalan club for a fee of €57 million. Seems simple enough, right? But after Santos reported that they only received €17.1 million of the transfer fee, Barcelona club member Jordi Cases started digging further into the deal. Since Barcelona is a club that is owned by its supporters, Cases noticed the irregularities and brought a lawsuit against Rosell to the Spanish High Court.
What Cases wants to know is why Santos was shorted €40 million. Further details about the deal have been discovered, mainly regarding third-party ownership and a payment to Neymar’s father, and unfortunately for Rosell, the courts have started to take notice. But when a deal for a player involves a supermarket chain, preferential rights to promising Santos players and a play-or-pay friendly, questions should be asked. So the real question here is, was it worth it?
Neymar has the potential to be one of the best players in the world, and at only 21, he is already the Brazilian national team’s main hope for World Cup glory this summer. Before Neymar joined Barca, numerous clubs had been courting the tricky winger knowing if they could convince him to join they would have a player capable of greatness. With the likes of Chelsea, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Manchester City all interested, Rosell and Barca admitted to paying Neymar’s father €10 million to ensure that he would not sign for arch-rivals Real Madrid or any of the other clubs mentioned for that matter.
With 11 goals in all competitions so far, Neymar has played decently well in his first season in Europe, especially when he helped pick up the slack after Barcelona’s all-time leading goalscorer Lionel Messi missed two months with a hamstring injury earlier this season. Although there is room for improvement, Neymar can only get better as he becomes more familiar with Messi and Co. In the end, Rosell did misappropriate funds in order to bring Neymar to Spain, but he was only trying to serve the best interests of his club.
It is hard to say that other presidents around Europe wouldn’t have done the same when a player of Neymar’s quality is on the line. So instead of pleading his innocence in a case that he has no chance of winning, Rosell stepped down, perhaps content with the knowledge that Neymar will still be a Barcelona player at the end of the day.